Coachella 2012: Selling vinyl in the desert
When Goldenvoice revealed last spring that it would stage two editions of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, featuring identical lineups on back-to-back weekends, planning for such an endeavor was no doubt easier for some participants than for others. Transporting a record shop certainly falls into the more difficult category.
Arizona’s Zia Records has long made the annual trek to Indio, but with plans to stay through each Coachella as well as Stagecoach, the vinyl record store had to commit to keeping a number of its staff and product in Indio for much of the month of April. It wasn’t a difficult decision, said general manager Brian Faber, despite the fact that Zia is lucky if it breaks even on its trips to the desert.
“We were blown away by the concept,” Faber said. “It’s a challenge for a small company to have to haul all of this, especially being from out of state.”
Zia has product from every artist performing at Coachella, as long as the artist has product for sale. Faber said the company spends three months securing music for Coachella and Stagecoach. The latter is a bit out of the store’s comfort zone, as Zia stocks plenty of indie and dance music, but little country.
“Last year was the first year we changed from a classic indie store to a whole country store” at Coachella, Faber said. “It’s such a different crowd. They’re so into the bands. They know every word of every song.”
Country product Zia doesn’t sell is either sent back to the labels or dispersed among its handful of stores. Asked if Zia made money during Stagecoach, Faber simply said, “Stagecoach was fun.”
What makes the trip worth it for Faber is, in fact, Record Store Day. This annual promotion usually falls during the Coachella dates, and spurs labels and artists to unleash a bevy of limited-edition product. It helps Zia break even, and it helps Faber and his staff spread the gospel of shopping at indie music stores. Record Store Day this year is Saturday, the second day of Coachella's second weekend, but Zia let out some of the limited product early, namely a reissue of At the Drive-In's EP “Vaya.”
The store had a total of 250 copies of "Vaya" to sell at the two Coachellas, and made 125 available this weekend. They were gone, Faber said, within an hour. Faber and his four core staffers will be driving back to Arizona on Monday to restock for next week’s Coachella. Without a Record Store Day to bring in customers looking for hard-to-find product, Faber admitted this week had been a little slow.
“We’re hoping next week is crazy busy,” he said. “We’re hoping this week is good busy.”
-- Todd Martens
Photo: Jessica Mitchell dances to the beat of David Starfire in the Do Lab on the third day of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson/Los Angeles Times